Hollande tells PM to form new govt

August 26, 2014 - 1:53:14 am
French President Francois Hollande speaks with children on the Ile de Sein, an island located near the Pointe-du-Raz, off the Brittany coast of France yesterday. 

PARIS: France was thrown into fresh crisis yesterday as President Francois Hollande told his prime minister to form a new government after damaging splits within the ruling Socialist party burst into 

the open.

It is the second reshuffle in just five months as the Socialists struggle to pull stagnating France out of the economic doldrums and the party is riven by infighting between left-leaning members and those who veer more to the centre.

A presidency statement said Prime Minister Manuel Valls had tendered the resignation of his government and the new line-up would be announced today.

“The head of state asked him (Valls) to form a team consistent with the direction he has himself set for the country,” it said.

The move caught France by surprise and sparked concern that Hollande, whose popularity is at a record low at just 17 percent, will lose further support by alienating key members of his party that still wield influence.

Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg, whose comments over the weekend slamming the country’s economic direction and France’s ally Germany sparked the crisis, said he would not be in the new cabinet as did his ally Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti.

Montebourg also announced that Education Minister Benoit Hamon, another member of the left-leaning clan of the party, would not take part in the new line-up.

Echoing his weekend comments in stronger terms, the anti-globalisation advocate warned in a speech yesterday that austerity measures were only prolonging and worsening a “serious, destructive and long” crisis in Europe.

“For two years, I fought tirelessly to convince, I wrote notes and letters to the head of the executive and made private and public declarations to attempt to convince and implore the president to refuse excessive measures for our country that risked damaging and sinking our economy,” he said.